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AOR IN ARGENTINA: BREAKING BARRIERS

Natalio and Carlos

Natalio and Carlos - Spreading the word in Buenos Aires

Some years ago, when I started meeting Avengers fans from other countries on the net, the first thing that caught my attention was that apart from sharing our interest in the series, I had a common feeling with many of them; a strange type of affinity that made us see the world through the same glass. How and why this happens among people of different ages and cultures, and what relationship it has with an old TV show is still a mystery. But the truth is - and this is what is important - that it occurs.

Calling Carlos!

Doubtless, some of this linking magic pervaded the meeting between myself and Eduardo Ballester, co-host of the programme La Guarida del Faro (The Lighthouse Refuge), on FM 87.9 Radio Nacional, Buenos Aires ( Listen to the station jingle - 83KB, MP3 Format). Eduardo is an Avengers fan who some months ago was broadcasting - for the first time in Argentina - a detailed history of the TV series. Trying to extend his sources of information, Eduardo visited Los Vengadores - a Spanish-language Avengers website that I run - and after surfing it for days he decided to invite us to take part in his programme. We spoke on the phone as if we were friends and very soon we arranged a meeting to discuss the programme content. As we didn't know each other by sight, Eduardo showed up in a bowler hat, holding a sign marked with my name. How else should Avengers fans meet?

Some months before the meeting, Alan and Alys Hayes had sent me some episodes of the radio series of The Avengers, following their restoration of tapes recorded from the original South African transmissions in the 1970s. Listening to these programmes for the first time, I was greatly impressed. Despite the passing of time, I found in them fragments of my own past, which as with many Argentinians of my age, had taken shape with the beginnings of television, when radio was still the most important means of communication.

I received Eduardo's invitation at the time when the enthusiasm surrounding my "discovery" of the radio series was at its height, so the first thing I thought was: wouldn't it be great to broadcast these programmes again, after thirty years? Eduardo was very enthusiastic about the idea and it was then that we decided to devote one of the four parts of this special broadcast of La Guarida del Faro, to the radio series of The Avengers. Just imagine, an English language radio programme pervading the night of Buenos Aires! By coincidence, thousands of kilometres away, accepting our suggestion with great enthusiasm, Alan Hayes was specially recording an introductory message - in Spanish! Not a Spanish language speaker, Alan demonstrated that not only is he an excellent webmaster and researcher, but he also has a good ear for languages. Bravo, Alan!

Finally, the great day came - Friday 22nd November 2002. La Guarida del Faro is transmitted each Friday for four hours, between two and six in the morning. Eduardo, my son Natalio and I took the first two hours of the programme, and divided it into four blocks in which we would discuss The Avengers in general and the radio series in particular. For a night lover like me, staying awake was the smallest problem! At about three in the morning we played Alan's greeting ( Listen to the introduction and Alan's message - 535KB, MP3 Format) and after a brief introduction, during which we told the story of the radio series in South Africa and gave a few technical and cast details, we transmitted the first of the chosen radio clips: the complete introduction of Dial a Deadly Number. ( Listen to this sequence - 341KB, MP3 Format)

Argentina has a long tradition of radio drama, but today it is practically no more. Both Eduardo and I were sure that the broadcast of The Avengers radio clips would appeal to the audience, bringing memories of radio drama flooding back to them - and we were not wrong! The first people to be moved were the technical staff of the radio station, who made gestures of great satisfaction through the glass that separates the studio from the console. ( Listen to Carlos' explanation of the radio series - 265KB, MP3 Format) A bit later, during the second clip we played, the audience started phoning the programme to pass on their praise and share their impressions. One of them said something like: "When something is done from the heart, it breaks all barriers". Eduardo and I were so moved that we didn't know very well how to go on with the programme. At the end of this block, the radio staff congratulated us for the quality of the chosen material and the crazy idea of broadcasting an English language radio series in Buenos Aires. Everybody was happy.

When we are trapped in our routine, our dreams and utopias tend to vanish as quickly as tears in the rain. But after experiences like this one, one has to believe that it is true that "when something is done from the heart it breaks all barriers". Despite the language barrier, the transmission of just a few clips of The Avengers radio series in Buenos Aires generated an emotional link with the audience, awakening their sensitivity and making sense of what we call "the media". It was just for a brief moment, of course. But, isn't it true that our emotional life is made precisely of these ephemeral moments of intense connection?

After broadcasting some music fragments taken from the TV series, Natalio and I left the studio just during the porteρo sunrise. The last thing we broadcast before leaving was Mein Liebe, Mein Rose, from the television version of The Joker, and that adorable final dialogue between Steed and Emma, special guests of this exclusive night:

Emma: "It's been quite a night!"

Steed: "Well, it's morning now. The fog's lifted. Let's get a breath of fresh air."

We couldn't have chosen a more suitable ending.

by Carlos
Translated by Flavia Lamborghini